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Press Release


Contact:

Matt Bach
Director of Media Relations
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073
mbach@mml.org; www.mml.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 9, 2016

HEART of Monroe PlacePlan Now Available Online

Michigan Municipal League posts project at placemaking.mml.org

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The HEART of Monroe PlacePlan project is now available for public viewing at placemaking.mml.org.

The Michigan Municipal League posted the HEART of Monroe report today along with PlacePlans projects from six other communities (Benton Harbor, Boyne City, Lathrup Village, Niles, Saginaw and Traverse City). Information about grants to implement similar PlacePlans in Allegan, Dearborn, Kalamazoo, and Sault Sainte Marie are also available. You can check them all out here: http://placemaking.mml.org/place-plans/.

“Our communities already have so many great assets and the PlacePlans year-long process focuses on an existing asset and recommends ways to make it even better,” said League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin. “The plans also reflect the needs and wants of the local community members who were involved throughout the process. We’re excited about the opportunities and possibilities the plans represent in these communities.”

PlacePlans is a joint effort between the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan State University School of Planning, Design and Construction, and is led at the state agency level by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). It is a program to help communities design and implement transformative placemaking projects to focus economic development efforts around walkable downtown districts.

“The PlacePlans program fosters collaboration from local individuals to make their communities feel like home. It’s inspiring to see the innovative and creative work generated by leaders and residents in these communities—Benton Harbor, Boyne City, Lathrup Village, Monroe, Niles, Saginaw and Traverse City,” said Gary Heidel, chief placemaking officer for MSHDA. “Hopefully these PlacePlans can become reality and build upon the positive placemaking work already happening in these cities.”

This current round of PlacePlans work began about a year ago when Monroe was among seven communities selected to receive technical assistance from university faculty and students, professional consultants, and League staff.

In Monroe, League staff facilitated work on a design concept for a downtown alley that connects key assets in the city. The downtown businesses and cultural institutions west of South Monroe Street struggle with limited access for visitors, customers, and deliveries. City staff identified the alley behind these buildings as an opportunity to improve access while also strengthening a sense of place. The PlacePlan process used input from a public design process and a steering committee made up of representatives from the destinations along the alley to create a “shared space” design for the alley. They decided the alley could connect the Historic, Entertainment, Arts, Residential, and Theater centers of the city, thus the acronym, HEART of Monroe, was born.

We really appreciated the collaborative nature of the PlacePlans process and how so many members of our community had their voices heard,” said Matt Wallace, planner for the City of Monroe. “The process seemed to work in getting people excited about the projects. Reinventing the alley was not something that seemed to be on people’s radar as something that needed be done. But when we said it was something the city was looking at it, then people got interested and the input we received from them was the exciting part of the process.”

The PlacePlans work concluded with several recommendations, including using lighting, public art, historical exhibits, and green spaces to provide a safe and attractive pedestrian route to businesses and cultural destinations from nearby parking areas. The improved alley also creates a link from this part of downtown to the city’s Riverwalk and River Raisin Heritage Trail. Additionally, the concept shows how nuts-and-bolts functions like loading and delivery access to businesses, trash pickup, and stormwater drainage could be improved.

Tony Trujillo, Monroe DDA board member and owner of Agua Dulce Café, was a member of the PlacePlans steering committee and an active participant in the effort throughout the year.

“From a business owner’s perspective, I really enjoyed the PlacePlans work and all the possibilities this process showed,” Trujillo said. “I’m excited about what could happen in this alley and in our community moving forward. This alley could really become a point of pride for our community and become a gathering place and focal point for everyone.”

The HEART of Monroe plan will be available at the city website, www.monroemi.gov, and hard copies can be requested at the Building and Zoning desk in City Hall.

For more information, go to placemaking.mml.org or contact Matt Bach, League director of media relations, at 734-669-6317 or mbach@mml.org.

The Michigan Municipal League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.

About Michigan Municipal League:
Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at mml.org.

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